UNICEF works in 22 countries and territories in Europe and Central Asia Region (ECAR) and is present in Italy, targeting refugee and migrant populations. In 2020:
• The first case of COVID-19 was detected in February and quickly spread across ECAR. 7.7 million people were infected, and 174,574 COVID-19 deaths were recorded by the end of the year. The highest peaks occurred in March/April and then October/November. Officially, Turkmenistan maintained it had no confirmed cases.
• UNICEF procured over $39.7 million in COVID-19 supplies, 20% of which for WASH. Over 4.6 million people received critical WASH supplies and services in under-resourced health centres, schools, closed institutions, and in the most marginalized communities.
• Digital outreach on social media and via interactive web and mobile apps were significant innovations that influenced populations behaviours for COVID-19 prevention. Social listening tools helped gather feedback to define messages that resonated more effectively with target audiences. In 2020, UNICEF reached nearly 198 million people with messaging on COVID-19 prevention and access to services.
• UNICEF helped ensure over 4.2 million people could access healthcare through community health workers and health facilities. Home visits by community nurses were transformed through digital and telephone outreach, while support to health systems ensured adequate infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, restoration of immunization, antenatal care and other mother/child health services.
• During the first nation-wide lockdowns, school closures affected nearly 50 million children in 20 countries. While intensive support was provided to ensure safe school re-openings, at the end of the year, 26.6 million children remain impacted by partial school closures. UNICEF supported 28.2 million children in distance/home-based learning.
• Across ECAR, the socio-economic impact is expected to increase poverty by 44 percent – equivalent to an additional 6.1 million children living in poverty. Initial support to countries in building more resilient social protection systems, included the introduction and strengthening of cash transfer programmes, reaching 9.7 million people.
• In partnership with WHO and Gavi, UNICEF has been providing regional-level technical support and ensuring country readiness for COVID-19 vaccine roll out through assessments of cold chains, supporting the development of national deployment and vaccination plans, facilitating the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, and preparing evidence-based communications campaigns to maximise vaccine uptake.